You can't help but go among mad people. We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad. You must be mad, or you wouldn't have come here.
~Cheshire Cat

10 March 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part Three: Eat Me

What good is a door without a key?
After enjoying her drink, Alice suddenly began to shrink. In one moment, she became only ten inches high – the perfect height to fit through the door. She was careful to not get too excited, though, because there was the possibility that she could keep shrinking, and shrinking, until eventually she would disappear altogether, like the flame of a candle. But she did in fact stop shrinking, and at just the perfect height!

Excited to finally visit the previously unattainable garden, Alice ran to the door. But in all the commotion, she had forgotten the key. How was she supposed to predict that the bottle marked “Drink Me” would cause her to shrink? That assumption would be absurd. So of course she forgot the key. If she had remembered it, that would be too easy. This presents a problem that Alice has no choice but to resolve. She tried tirelessly to climb the glass table to reach the key in vain. Overwhelmed, she started to cry.

But despite her failure to make bizarre assumptions being completely understandable and forgivable, Alice scolds herself anyway. She ordered herself to stop crying, which only furthered her shame, and she cried even harder. Alice scolds herself regularly, and is so ashamed by herself that she remembers trying to box up her tears after she scolded herself for cheating in a game of croquet (against herself). It’s as if she has two people inside her – someone with whom she can play against, and someone who can scold her. She often pretended to be two people at once.

Sometimes I play pretend. I realize that I’m a grown-ass adult, but sometimes I still pretend to be a ballerina. I gracefully glide across the floor instead of just walking down a hallway. But this is different from what Alice does. Instead of pretending to be someone else, Alice pretends to be two distinct Alices.

“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!”

While pouting on the corridor floor, Alice spotted a glass box and opened it. Inside there was a beautifully decorated cake. Alice figured she might as well eat it. There can only be two possible outcomes: she will grow tall enough to get the key, or she will shrink enough to fit through the space under the door. She didn’t care which it was, but she had to do something besides just sit and pout. She took a bite.

Alice waited to see which direction she would go. From her earlier experience, she assumed that she should make the supposition that something would happen, like last time. When nothing did, she sighed and concluded it was silly to expect something so absurd to come from eating cake. After all, that’s what usually happens when someone eats cake: nothing. So she figured, what’s the point? and ate the whole thing. 

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